Photo:

Cassandra Raby

I had a great time! Thanks for all the students and scientists that made this such an exciting event... I'm missing it already! :)

My CV

Education:

I studied at University of Nottingham and the Royal Veterinary College

Qualifications:

A-Levels (All science A-Levels… I really like science!), BSc Zoology, MSc Wild Animal Biology

Work History:

I have had a lot of jobs – more than I can write on here! I have worked in a laboratory at Leeds University and London Zoo, and I have done many non-science jobs in shops and cafes.

Current Job:

I am a PhD student

Employer:

University of Liverpool and Institute of Zoology

Me and my work

I’m a biologist looking at disease in baboons and other wild animals!

I look at why climate change would make baboons more, or less, ill with disease.  So I study their poo to see what diseases they have (and yes, it is smelly).

To do this I have quite a lot of different work to do:

  • Fieldwork – following baboons in Africa
  • Laboratory work – Looking at the poo samples to find the parasites
  • Computer work – Using the information from the field and the lab to find out how climate change will affect disease in animals and in humans!

And why baboons?  Baboons are important to study for many reasons; they get the same diseases as humans, and they act similar to humans, and they spread diseases to humans! They are also primates, and there are many primates that are nearly going extinct – so the more we know about them the better!

My Typical Day

My days are always so different! When I’m in Africa I do a lot of walking! In England I do a lot of thinking, writing and reading. (Click on the links below to find out more…)

Fieldwork

In Africa I live in Namibia and I stay in a tent at a campsite myimage1 on a project with London Zoo called the Tsaobis Baboon Project.  Here we have two troops of baboons that we follow every day.  We wake up before sunrise to find the troop waking up, and then we follow them all day long, like this.  We do a lot of walking – until they rest and we get to rest with them. myimage2 We would write down their behaviour (like, who their friends are), collect poo samplesmyimage5, and see what food they eat.  We have been trying to get the baboons to weigh themselves, which is very difficult! myimage3 Then we wait until the baboons go to sleep at sunset before we go back home to sleep.

We have to be careful of other wild animals, such as this snake I nearly stood on! myimage4

 

Laboratory

In the laboratory I look down the microscope.  I look at the poo (after sieving it and adding chemicals) to try and see how many diseases the baboons have.myimage7  The diseases are parasites (both worms and amoeba), and I find out how many there are by the number of eggs I find, and they look like this: myimage6

 

Office work

When I’m in the office I get to drink lots of cups of tea!  I also read, write and learn as much as I can.  At the moment I am building a model so that I can use all the information I know about disease in baboons and the weather – and then it will tell me what will happen when the climate changes in the future! And what will happen to humans!

 

And sometimes I just spend my time taking pictures of baboons – they like posing for the camera! myimage8 myimage9

What I'd do with the money

Make videos and a website, so I can blog my adventures when I’m in Africa

When I’m in the middle of a desert in Africa (without much internet!) it is hard to talk to people about the exciting science I am doing! So I would use the money to help me create videos of what I’m doing, and write a blog, and have a twitter account.  Then I could make a website where all this information goes for everyone to see! People could then see how I follow the baboons, and how the baboons behave.

Wouldn’t that be fun?!

Here is a video of our baboons grooming and playing (and an annoying fly): Baboons grooming 

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Enthusiastic monkey follower

Who is your favourite singer or band?

This changes a lot – but at the moment I love ‘Of monsters and men’! If you haven’t heard of them, here is a link for you to dance to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghb6eDopW8I

What's your favourite food?

I love cereal, especially Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and Coco Pops – and I eat it from a mug for dessert.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I might have to cheat on the question and write a list… So this summer I got to travel in Canada (it was amazing!)… watching elephants at night on safari (one of the perks of being a scientist)… and flying a plane upside down!

What did you want to be after you left school?

I wanted to be a vet. As I grew older I found out that being a scientist and studying animals in the wild was a job! So I changed my mind and became a zoologist.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Actually I was never in trouble! Never ever!

What was your favourite subject at school?

I liked Biology, but I also liked doing Drama.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Working with the baboons is amazing – and living in Namibia has been one of my favourite jobs as a scientist. But other things I’ve done as a scientist is catch birds in Portugal; do post-mortems on interesting animals (like a Gaboon viper, and a penguin!); feed lemurs (they climbed all over me); and go to Canada to camp in snowy mountains!

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

I think most of my inspirations came from the television – Especially David Attenborough and the News. Watching all the problems in the world with animal conservation, health and climate change, I wanted to be one of the people that does something important to help the world – so I became a scientist!

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A famous singer! (I wish)

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1) The ability to time-travel… or to pause time! 2) Super strength powers, or flying powers, I’m not sure which is my favourite. 3) The ability to remember all the information in a book just by touching it!

Tell us a joke.

What do you call an exploding monkey… A baBOOM!

Other stuff

Work photos:

myimage2 Here I am sat with one of the baboons – taking a rest from the desert heat!

myimage3 These baboons are being helpful and are getting weighed

myimage4 A horned adder I nearly stood on!

myimage5 I look horrible in this photo, and I’m getting baboon poo! YUCK! But it’s for science!

myimage6 One of the parasite eggs under the microscope

myimage7 This is a tube of poo ready to look under the microscope (we throw away the top bit and keep the bit at the bottom of the tube to look at)

myimage8 This is Sydney! He is a lovely baboon..

myimage9 Baboon posing